It’s a peculiar thing, as a child I was incredibly fussy, refusing to eat anything containing a lump. In our family there is now an infamous saying; ‘its got bits in it’ which seemed to be a reoccurring phrase every time a meal was produced.
In exasperation, my poor long suffering mother packed me off to boarding school and very quickly the fastidious habits soon ceased. School had cleverly orchestrated a manners system; all new girls arrived classed as a boa constrictor and over the years manners were carefully scrutinized by the terrifying school matrons. All food had to be eaten; no attempt at lining up the brussel sprouts under the knife could get past them. If meals were eaten in a polite and lady like fashion we were then duly rewarded with promotion. So from a dismal boa constrictor, I leapt through the ranks of Panda, Cat, Primrose, Best Granny before reaching the dizzying heights of Royal Guest (allowing the ultimate privilege of bringing back a condiment of choice). To get moved down in manners was something of a crime, the shame was unbearable, teaching us young impressionable girls that you either liked or lumped, excuse the pun, food. So, it was partly due to survival that I began to take an interest in cooking and tried to create something slightly more edible than school could produce.
When I got to secondary school, my parents enrolled me on a cookery course. Unlike my appalling numeracy skills, cooking turned out to be something I was relatively good at. Sod the Nobel Peace Prize, the only thing I wanted was the Silver Ladle, the award for promising cooks. Luckily, due to my creative Christmas cake decoration (in sum it involved Pingu, a lake and an igloo) my goal was achieved.
Since then I have continued to experiment in my kitchen at home, cooking for friends and family. Due to the conventions of life I’ve had to get a full time job but in my spare time I am continually concocting up recipes, trying out the vast cuisine available in London and generally trying to be the next, albeit flat chested, Nigella Lawson.
Claudia Meek, September 2013